Sunday 11 June 2023

Imafidor's repurpose metal art for Olunloyo Park

The magnificent Sculpture by Jonathan Imafidor. Photo by Mode Wey.

By Ola Alowoloke

A PUBLIC space art designed to be installed at Olunloyo Airport Park, Ibadan, has been commissioned to US-based Nigerian artist, Jonathan Imafidor. 

Commissioned by Government of Oyo State, the sculpure that has been described as groundbreaking artistic endeavor will reshape the creative landscape of the state when unveiled soon.

Standing at 65ft, the sculpture, which has been meticulously crafted from reclaimed scrap metals, according to the artist, will no doubt emerge as a powerful symbol of the region's profound cultural heritage and artistic excellence.

During a virtual preview with the artist who spoke from his Atlanta, GA base, it was noted that the artist was raised amidst the resplendent natural beauty of Uneme-Nekhua, a small rural settlement in Southern Nigeria. He garnered international acclaim for his extraordinary talent and groundbreaking artistic vision.

His formative years were profoundly influenced by the captivating wonders of his environment. This unique upbringing has significantly shaped his artistic perspective and deepened his reverence for the intricate interplay between humanity and the natural world.

His artistic Odyssey in the last two decades has traversed the realm of traditional canvas painting, to encompass large-scale murals and sculptures.  Thanks to renowned sculptors like John Lopez, Nigeria's doyen of sculptures, Dotun Popoola, and William Massey under whose guidance Imafidor honed his skills.

This artistic exploration, we learnt has led him  to embrace the transformative energy of sculpting, using found metal objects, a technique  that has become synonymous with his distinctive artistic style.

On why he embraces found metal objects otherwise repurposing as a technique for his artistic style, the 2009 first class graduate in painting who broke the 20 year first class hiatus in  the department of Fine and  Applied Art, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife said. "Repurposing materials in today's art market is highly valued and appreciated. 

"It offers a unique and innovative approach to art creation by transforming discarded, scraps or unused materials into meaningful and thought-provoking creations. 

"The use of scrap metal in particular can add an element of sustainability and environmental consciousness to the artistic process, highlighting the importance of recycling and reducing waste. 

"Repurposing materials not only adds depth and layers of meaning to the artwork but also aligns with the growing emphasis on sustainability and eco-friendly practices in contemporary art," he said.

Meanwhile, the proposed monumental sculpture will serve as a testament to the artist's exceptional creative prowess. The art piece seamlessly fuses his commitment to ecological issues with profound connection to African cultural heritage. 

He said. "The awe-inspiring sculpture will feature three towering human figures, resplendent in their majesty and standing atop an intricately crafted pedestal. Among these figures, two will symbolize the valiant male and female warriors of the ancient Oyo Kingdom, embodying the region's rich history and indomitable spirit. 

"The third figure, a masterful

representation of a drummer, will pay homage to the vibrant cultural tapestry that defines the region.The pedestal itself will take the form of a broadcasting dish, an emblematic tribute to Ibadan's status as the birthplace of Africa's inaugural broadcast station.

"The Olunloyo Airport Park's selection for the installation of this magnificent sculpture is  known for its scenic beauty and cultural significance. And upon completion, the prominent position within the park will ensure that the artwork is accessible to residents and visitors alike. Beside that, the towering 65ft masterpiece will firmly establish itself as the tallest scrap metal sculpture in the entire nation, thereby propelling Ibadan to the forefront of artistic innovation and cultural significance," he explains.

With more than 4 international awards, 23 sculptural pieces in public places in Nigeria, Turkey, France, United States of America and 17 group, joint and Solo exhibitions spanning 13 years, Imafidor's  artistic achievements stand as a testament to his exceptional talent and unwavering dedication to his craft.

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